By Gloria Rand
LinkedIn may not be the most popular social networking site – Facebook holds that crown – but it is the perfect place to gain new business connections and referrals. If you have a LinkedIn account, but aren’t getting the results you want, it may be that you’re making one or more of these key mistakes:
Mistake #1 – Profile is not optimized – Your LinkedIn profile is your calling card on the social networking site. As such, it must include keywords that your prospects and potential business partners use during a LinkedIn search. If your prospects can’t find you on LinkedIn, you may as well be invisible. Even worse… it means you’re losing business to your competitors who can be found.
What’s the solution?
Include keywords in the headline, summary, and experience sections of your profile. Don’t use the default, “My Company” heading under the contact info section either. Customize those links with keywords by choosing “Other” while in edit mode.
Your Summary is NOT a Resume
Don’t treat the Summary section as a place to list your accomplishments as you would on your resume. Instead, write a summary that sounds like your 30-second elevator speech. Avoid referring to yourself in the third person. Write as if you’re speaking to your ideal client, and highlight the benefits you have to offer them.
Mistake #2 – Not actively searching for prospects – Talk about leaving money on the table! If you’re going to have a profile, don’t just leave it up to chance for someone to find you. Be proactive. Use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search feature. For example, search job titles of people who would be good prospects. You can also search for prospects in the LinkedIn groups you belong to.
Save Your Searches
One reason small business owners get frustrated with social media is the amount of time it takes to get results. Here’s a tip to save time and frustration: save your searches. This way you can divvy up the prospecting work over a few days. Here’s an example:
Monday – search for prospects, save the results
Tuesday – review your results and start sending messages to prospects
Wednesday – follow up with any replies to your messages
Key tip: Don’t try to sell your prospects in your initial message. You need to nurture these leads. Follow the 3 by 3 rule instead.
Spend 3 minutes reviewing your prospect’s profile and find 3 things you have in common, like a group or college. This will help you break the ice with your prospect by having something in common to establish rapport. Give them a reason to connect with you too, by offering something of value such as a link to an industry article, or a free eBook. This can be something you offer on your own website, or someone else’s material.
Mistake #3 – Following the “Set it and forget it” method. Creating a LinkedIn profile and then not spending any time on the site at all is a sure way to get ZERO results. Remember, this is a social networking site. You need to spend quality time on the site on a regular basis.
Share Quality Info and Engage Your Prospects
If you want to position yourself as your industry’s leading expert, you need to post regular updates on LinkedIn. You can do this on your profile and a company page, if you have one.
Groups are also a great place to share useful information about your industry. Just don’t jump in right away and start posting links to your blog articles. Look for relevant discussions first and comment on them, adding value to the discussion. Then, you can share an article, and pose a question with it to spark a conversation.
Use Your Voice and Take a Stand
One sure way to set yourself apart from the millions of other LinkedIn users and raise your profile in the eyes of your prospects is to be controversial. Take a stand on an issue. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Don’t be rude, mind you. But if you truly want to be known as a thought leader – have an original thought. Don’t just repost what someone else said. Demonstrate your authority in your industry. People respect that.
Any information that a LinkedIn user can just agree with won’t get them to take action. It’s not challenging them, and worse, it allows them to simply ignore you.
If you’re not afraid to topple some sacred cows and shake up the status quo by challenging something and demanding change, you’ll attract the attention of bigger prospects. People like to do business with cool people… since they’ll be seen as cool by association. People who challenge others will be respected.
Finally, here’s one last piece of advice:
LinkedIn may be the more “professional” social networking site – compared to Facebook and Twitter anyway – but that doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time. It’s ok to have some fun. Post thought-providing quotations. Ask questions. And most of all, be yourself. That’s the only way you’ll truly be able to connect with prospects and generate new leads for your business.
Gloria Rand is an Internet Marketing Expert, Award-Winning SEO Blogger and Best-Selling Author. She helps entrepreneurs boost their sales and improve their bottom line by helping them implement an online marketing plan that works. Connect with Gloria at gloriarand.com, or online @GloriaRand, fb.com/GloriaRand and linkedin.com/in/GloriaRand.